We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, March 10, 2014

Profiting from crisis - How corporations and lawyers are scavenging profits from Europe’s crisis countries

Click here to access introduction to a study done by Cecilia Olivet & Pia Eberhardt from Corporate Europe Observatory.

This study reveals the details of a global story which many of us have already seen indications of in nation after nation. Under the new banner of neoliberalism, capitalist vultures are now on a global quest to place entire populations in debt to major banks and, in turn, to them as the banks' investors. Of course, they have been doing this for decades as revealed by such people as John Perkins who wrote about it in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. This is now accelerating using so-called "free trade agreements". The neoliberal vultures have thoroughly infiltrated governments and are now in the process of formulating laws in support of these agreements which make entire nations vulnerable to their capitalist class's predations.
The legal bases of these lawsuits are the over 3000 international investment treaties in existence to date. They contain far-reaching protections of private property enshrined in catch-all clauses such as “fair and equitable treatment” and “protection from indirect expropriation”. The trouble is that these clauses have been interpreted so broadly that they gave a carte blanche to corporations to sue states for any regulations that could be deemed to affect current or future profits. Moreover, investment treaties grant corporations rights to protection, without giving equivalent rights to states to protect their own citizens.
So far they have succeeded so well that the debts of nations owed to them, according to Bloomberg News, is now estimated at over $100 trillion! (I can't even comprehend how much money that is.) This new age of neoliberalism is looking more and more like old-fashioned feudalism. These new lords of the global manor can now merely sit back and live off the interest we pay them by cutting back on expenses that go to our health, education, recreation, retirement pensions, transportation, and general welfare. 

Are we humans and our natures so defective that we will continue to allow this tiny class of people put us into never-ending virtual slavery? Stay tuned, better yet, stay active and informed.